Felipe Massa believes Valtteri Bottas needs to beat Lewis Hamilton at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix to stop Mercedes favoring the Briton in this year’s drivers’ championship.
Bottas took his first victory last time out in Russia, beating Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen as Hamilton struggled to fourth place. The result saw Bottas close to within 10 points of his teammate while Vettel holds a 13-point advantage at the top of the drivers’ standings, but Massa – who drove alongside Bottas for three years at Williams – believes the way Ferrari is prioritizing the German will result in Mercedes doing the same with its lead driver if a gap opens up.
“For sure I was happy that he won the race and came to say congratulations to him,” Massa (pictured, and congratulating Bottas after his win, TOP) said. “To be honest he did a very good race but everybody knows he had very good competition from his teammate and his teammate is at the top level as well, so I don’t see that it’s impossible for Valtteri to fight with him.
“I think it’s possible; we know it’s not easy but to be able to fight with Lewis, now is the right time. If he’s after the championship and now he improves, if you see Kimi will work for Sebastian the whole championship, it’s clear. So if you have another team that is fighting for the championship and you have a driver that is more than 20 points behind, he will need to do the same.
“So now is the time. If he wants to fight with Lewis he needs to win another race here, he needs to score more points than Lewis now. Then the team cannot do anything.”
Massa himself was on the receiving end of a hand gesture from Vettel on the final lap of the race in Russia as the Ferrari driver felt he had been held up in his pursuit of Bottas, but Massa insists he was not trying to influence the race result.
“I would never do that, give a gift to a driver like this, never. I gave the space to both drivers. Sebastian didn’t want to pass me because he thought I wasn’t looking at him but I braked much earlier and I gave him space but he was not confident to go. So I didn’t do anything for Valtteri and it’s not inside my person to do that.”